Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up

Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201646)
I've begun my entry for the contest - it's going to be a horizontally scrolling space shooter, along the lines of gradius or salamander.

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space.gif
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I've got scrolling, collision detection and ship swapping working so far.

I can't decide on a name - pretty much anything "space", "star" or "void" seems to be taken. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201648)
It's not uncommon for space shooters to have seemingly nonsensical names like Salamander.
But, focusing the setting from "space" to some specific field or portion of space could help with inspiration for a title.
You could also present some genre twist or key gameplay feature to help with a title too.

Ship tilting animation looks good, btw.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201650)
M_Tee wrote:
You could also present some genre twist or key gameplay feature to help with a title too.

Totally agree with that.
Would make a lot easier to suggest a name.

Or, maybe you can try some very generic name (like Space Soldier, Ship Shooter, ...), a mix of space related words (Nebulous Star, Dust Supernova, ...), the name of a star or a space object you find interesting (like Antares, Eridanus, Chalawan, Rigel, Blackhole, Pulsar etc...), a combination of a star name and some other thing (like The Antares' Warrior, Fight for Rigel, Eridanus' Journey,...), something that don't makes much sense but uses space stuff name (Iron Pulsar, Flashing Blackhole, The Pillars of Creation, Orion's StarDust) or even some acronym like YANS (Yet Another Nes Shooter). :D

By the animation, I think this looks pretty promissing!!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201651)
I see tiles changing on the left side. Consider flipping the 'render BG left 8 pixel' 'render SPR left 8 pixel' off on the PPU PPUMASK $2001.

Otherwise, looks nice.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201674)
Great ideas, thanks. I've got thoughts on possible directions, but I'm not sure which path I'm going to take with this game yet - once I have decided, I'll let you all know. Let me know if anything occurs to you in the meantime.

Here were some of the original names when I was going to make more of a defender style game:

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I'm probably not going with either of these - Rapier as it is only one letter away from a horrible internet fail, and harbinger as it's a little generic.

Dougeff - yes, it's disabled for testing. Thanks for pointing it out though!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201686)
Enemy loading and patterns are working

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space2 - 2.gif
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space2 - 3.gif
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This is from a tiled file with a layer for NPCs. NPCS are currently stored very ineffiecently with a limit of 48 per level, but I reckon I could get this pretty easily up to 200 if necessary.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201689)
This shows the pattern editor off a little better.

Ignore the sprite overlap withh ships 4 onwards - that's just my poor timing!

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Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201691)
Also, I forgot to comment earlier, but Fight for Rigel is an awesome name (although like I think I'm going to follow M_Tees suggestion of waiting for the mechanics to shake out before choosing something)
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201962)
Title screen:

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title_screen.png
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Any comments? And Tepples, before you break out your ruler, I know ;)
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201965)
'a we are' reads very awkwardly.

Slightly monotone colors.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201970)
Yeah, its only using one palette currently. Good point about the grammer, i didnt think about that. Thanks!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201973)
I've re-ordered the bottom part and made a much better font for it. I've also slimmed down the "O" a bit.

Again, any comments appreciated:

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title_screen_2.png
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Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201974)
By sight, that color is $06 or close to it. Text in $01-$0C on a background $00 is very hard to read, especially with vertical strokes one pixel wide, as the stroke will coincide with the low phase of the color subcarrier on one of every three scanlines.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201975)
Hi Tepples - Yes, it's 05. Thanks, I'll experiment and try and get something more readable on there.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201979)
I'd say start with $15 for the logo and $25 for the text.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201990)
Seeing that title screen, i immediately think of russian space posters from the 50s and 60s. They would often pair two (or more) faces against a space/rocket backdrop. Note how they are in harmony with each other, in one team, in unison. The artists were very conscious about position and direction. The hint i get from your title screen is that the two ships/pilots are in opposition, and that it's therefore maybe a 2 player versus game.

I'm attaching a zip with some selected moodboard pictures.

I would align the top and bottom bars/lines so they were in parallel with the text in "two" and "ships".
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#201991)
I agree. If the multiplayer is coopeartive, the composition should show the faces looking at the same direction, as there's an objective to pursuit together.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202029)
These are great points, thanks! I wasn't directly thinking of soviet propaganda but I wanted a poster like feel to it, and to give the ships some personality by showing the pilots.

The game is single player, and currently involves having two ships, which you can swap between at any time. If you lose a ship, it's out. Once you lose both ships, game over. The intention is to give the player a nice risk/reward mechanic - do you charge up both ships equally, or just one and use it all the time with the risk you might gradius yourself back to nothing, or do you play it super safe and keep a powered up ship in reserve?

How does the attached look?

I've experimented a bit with some gridding as well, to break up the black space. If anyone particularly hates it, please let me know.

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title_screen_facing_forwards_with_grid.png
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title_screen_facing_forwards.png
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Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202032)
The grid looks cool. I wonder how this would look on an NTSC CRT TV.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202033)
I think the grid is a good idea. It also helps frame the rest which otherwise can feel a bit 'floating'.

Maybe you could experiment with making the heads bigger and place them closer to their ships? You can also use black for shadows in faces, hair (especially those two) and ship details more than you have currently.

If the graphics for the ships are used in some option / fluff splash screen detailing their capabilities, you might want to reconsider not using them for the title screen. Maybe a darker silhoute from the side (black is your friend, it conserves tile space)?

^ Not strong opinions, just a bit of brain storming.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202037)
The bad kerning around the i in sharpicus pokes my eye.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202046)
oh I see that now, thanks calima.

These ships are specifically for the title screen. I'll experiment with further detail and the portraits and see where I get to.

This is all great feedback, cheers!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202047)
Did a small edit (mostly palette related). Care to see? Just fun to poke around a bit. If you see something you like, you can keep it, or disregard it wholly.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202051)
Yeah, go for it! This is a mock up in tiled so I haven't done anything with palettes yet. I have to admit I'm a bit obsessed with palette number two in the yy-chr software.

I've fixed the kerning to prevent further occular injuries

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title_screen_facing_forwards_with_grid.png
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Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202052)
It's not much, just a bit more colour to tone down the ships and bring the text forward from the rest of the background. A few pixel edits here and there. I maintained the tile count (in case you need the rest of the tile space for something else). Managed to pick one loose and repurpose it. Else, it's pretty much the same.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202055)
Ah, that's really nice!

I can see that colour toning you where doing with those excellent backgrounds you posted a while ago. The shading of the ships and portraits also look awesome - I see what you were talking about when you said use black - i didn't think two tone hair would make so much of a difference.

What I'll probably do is take it and try and learn from it, if that's alright - so the final edition of it will look worse then yours, but at least at least I will hopefully have developed a little bit. Progress! :)
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202059)
Thanks! :) You're welcome to use it however you'd like. Learning, using, altering... it's your design. I just toyed around a bit.

Just another quick edit. This was done to make the left and right edges a bit more safe (as i did with the small print before), but the extra hair colour/sun light and left-aligned title was a bonus. The head pairing could be done anyways.

Edit: Spelling.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202061)
Yes, that head pairing is a really good idea! It's actually also given me an idea for a completely different composition, which I may do a quick mock up of.

These are all ace, thanks.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#202705)
This is my favorite of the title screens posted so far. I like the palette, how the bright white ships stand out and the lack of unnecessary detail. (I think the grid just makes the screen more confusing.)

However, I'm not sure what the objects in the cockpits are. At first, I thought they were big heads with sad faces, noses between the eyes and dark red hair and hands on the dashboard.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203548)
I've been practicing portraits today- here's the latest title screen:

Attachment:
title_screen_facing_forwards_with_grid - new-chars-3.png
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Any comments appreciated. No palettes yet, as this is just a tiled mockup.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203549)
Bit more shading for the ships.

Attachment:
title_screen_facing_forwards_with_grid - new-chars-4.png
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Again, comments appreciated.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203552)
Looks good. Not sure if I prefer new or old title. The faces are good. Have personality.

The new shading on the lower ship's wingtips looks like they're kinda rusting away, though.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203553)
Ha, yeah, I may have gone a bit overboard with the shading. I thought two ships might have been a bit too plain, but will consider. Thanks!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203555)
The redrawn heads look fantastic, much better use of color and tons more expression. Perhaps their faces could be made up of sprites to give the heads a more defined skin color and as to not be restricted by the BG attributes?
Also, the second ship down seems to have some strange asymmetry in a few places. In the cockpit it makes sense, but but on places like the edges of the wings it feels kinda out of place IMO. But maybe that's just my dangerous love for symmetry :lol:
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#203617)
Yes, the ship could do with a bit more cleaning up. I'm back working on the engine for now so will tighten up the symmetry and shading next time around. And make it less rusty!

Thanks again for the feedback!

On the engine side this is the first time I've seriously used the fceux debugger (for anyone who hasn't used it or a similar tool, the tutorial Dougeff posted is excellent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2XkJQFs0OQ) and I've managed to crunch down the tile extraction to a column and attributes at 3500 cycles, among other things. It's also reminding me again that similar c code doing identical things can lead to vastly different optimisations.

A quick question - what is the most effiecent way in CA65 ASM to either assign a value from one indirect reference to another, or to compare two indirect references to another? In CC65, assigning directly between the two, or adding a value from an indirect reference to another, uses more cycles then assigning one to a var first, and then doing the maths/comparison/assignment from the var to indirect reference. I've literally shaved hundreds of cycles off for loops doing this. Am I missing an even faster trick in ASM?
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210103)
Lots of progress since last time but not much to post about. In the last week or so I've recoded most of the main routines in assembly which has saved a ton of frame time. I'm thinking of adapting the engine to a contra/blaster master type game as well, as it wouldn't take too much work to do.

Here's one of the songs I've been working on for the game, any comments appreciated. It's called "Wind up". This is one of the first pieces I've composed, and while I've been reading a lot about music composition I'm certain I'm making a lot of rookie mistakes.

Attachment:
songpack_1 - Track 03 (Wind up).mp3 [1002.04 KiB]
Downloaded 270 times
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210126)
I dunno much about music either, but as a starting point I'd suggest to work on the quality of your instruments (the "timbre" I think it's called). For example, good sounding NES drums usually cycle through different pitches and use the triangle channel to get kicks. Good sounding square waves tend to sound richer and less "tinny".
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210130)
It depends a lot on what you want to describe or express with the music. The sound might be just fine if that's what you're after.

Without an ftm file it's hard for me to come up with something constructive to say but I think i'd allow it to "wander" a bit more once the basic theme has been established, which is around the 0:32 mark... so anywhere after that, think i'd let it move around the scale.


btw the new portraits on the title screen are great!
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210134)
These comments are both really helpful, thanks!

So I've experimented a bit and done some more reading and I'm think the richness you're talking about comes from a noise/duty envelope on the square wave? It certainly sounds less flat. Previously I was mostly just using volume/arpeggio.

Found this excellent page on the famitracker wiki about drum sounds as well - would you say that's a fair description of what you're referring to?
http://www.famitracker.com/wiki/index.php?title=How_to_make_drums

About moving it round the scale - It's currently a pretty basic song, one instrument coming in after another, then a bit of a reverie (with the intention of being like a horn section, a sort of call to arms) to break it up. I'll experiment a bit and see if a longer version works better.

In terms of expression the intention is to get the player going from the slow beat at the beginning to the fast beat, unconciously - I was intending to incite a kind of mild clockwork mania, like automatons working faster and faster on a factory line, hence "wind up". Probably would have been helpful if I'd said so earlier!

This has given me quite a bit to think about, thanks.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210670)
The engine for this is pretty much done, and I've been having a rethink about the theme and the graphics - it doesn't really have that immediate appeal I'd like it to have. I've been expanding the engine out to a couple of other projects I may be posting about soon.

Here is a boss I've been working on:

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boss_1.gif
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Any comments/thoughts appreciated
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210672)
That boss looks wicked.

Only because you asked, but…
…if I were to, just out of thin air, come up with a theme / graphics change for this, I'd probably take the theme of twins and space, and call the game Gemini. Since the enemies and worlds are primarily warm in color, I'd make the players / title screen cool in color (and I also associate cool colors with the concept of Gemini, although I can't pinpoint any logical reason for that association).

I'd probably also go with space-jetski style ships, (GIS reference, potentially NSFW) with bike designs that -not only have unique silhouettes when viewed from the viewpoint of the gameplay, but also distinctly showed the difference between the pilots. I guess hoverbike is what I meant when I said "space jet ski", but there are some pretty rad designs around for inspiration.

EDIT
If time allowed for a full reskin of graphics, I'd probably opt for a side view to showcase the pilots more, but not totally necessary.

I just checked the first page and saw that the game does have a side view. I had forgotten that due to the top view of the boss posted and on the title screen.
Re: Progress Thread - scrolling shoot'em up
by on (#210693)
Those are some pretty sound ideas, thanks!